Digital challenges for businesses

Saleh Akram | Published: June 01, 2018 22:33:45 | Updated: June 02, 2018 21:31:20

In today's digitalised world, technology is influencing every sphere of human life, and it is impossible to imagine modern businesses without technological applications. It is a whole new world where digital intervention is necessary to address all managerial issues ranging from production to marketing to people management. Application of management techniques and adoption of technology have become the key ingredients for successes in modern business. While management of technology is intended to produce better results, adoption of technology entails involvement of the management in securing continuously evolving technologies necessitating the business leaders and their co-workers to become increasingly conversant about those. Both are now required to be tech savvy, as traditional benchmark practices have undergone changes hitherto unknown. In reality, technological changes are occurring all around us, causing the business environment to wear a different look. A changing work environment, therefore, would require business leaders and managers to develop new set of skills and competencies in order to become genuinely tech savvy.

These are the immediate challenges that they are now confronted with, and they will need to acquire a new set of crucial skills for overcoming these. Employees will now be known as digital co-workers. Gone are the days when the workplace was merely a physical space occupied by employees during office hours. An office with practically no specific working hours has made the difference between physical office and the place where work is actually carried out. As a result, the distinction between a person's professional and personal life is fast disappearing; and an extra thin line of demarcation between the two exists only in theory.

In a situation like this, workplaces become truly digital and at times non-existent. Employee communication and decision-making take place in unprecedented ways. Already, some leading organizations have started to implement plans for creating an entirely new working environment - the digital workplace. Here, the language of communication has become radically different, thereby propelling them to transform the employee experience by fostering efficiency, innovation and growth. The key to success, however, lies in the effective implementation of a digital workplace strategy that is capable of driving true cultural changes.

With the increased application of the internet and mobile devices, the pace of change continues to accelerate. These changes are further pushed up by demands for higher productivity and lower costs, making it harder for the employees to meet market expectations. Together, these trends are reshaping the work environment today.

 The situation obviously calls for the leaders and managers to acquire the expertise to perform efficiently and guide their digital colleagues effectively through implementation of technological innovations. In the context of decisional outcomes, digital coworkers will be independently handling their assigned work-schedules most of the time. There will be no need for interventions by applying human decision-making skills unless they produce unsatisfactory solutions. Managers will also be thrown challenges by their digital colleagues. They will need to learn how and when to raise question, agree and compromise.

Digital technologies have rendered the traditional work routine redundant in many aspects, and enabled remote working practices. While current company management still focuses on differentiation between work and non-work time, drawing border lines between the two has been a great challenge for business managers. They should now start thinking about establishing a prudent relationship with the adopted technology. Business managers will also have to perceive and develop empathy in respect of technological choices and preferences for their colleagues. They should not only be dynamic and proactive about their own technological preferences, but also be respectful to their co-workers' choices, particularly when they are working in the same project or team. Ideally, while framing work design, employees with homogenous or identical technological choices should be placed in the same team.

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